by Dr. R. Barrera, Instructional Designer / Web Content Strategist

It’s 11:50 pm. Maybe I should start with “grace”? Or what about “stale”? I have ten more minutes before I can start my next Wordle, and I’ve been waiting all day.

Haven’t heard about Wordle? It’s an online puzzle (not an app, just a website) that challenges you to guess a five-letter word with only six chances. It’s a different word every day, and there’s only one word a day for the entire world. Once solved, or not, you can share your results on social media. Results do not reveal the answer. They show only each attempt with the letters redacted and the designated corresponding colors for each letter square that reveal your thinking path.

Wordle recently went viral.

I confess that I am totally hooked! Life-long learning is one of my passions, and I love to find new ways that flex my learning muscles. I am always thinking about different ways to engage myself and others in the learning process. I started to reflect on why I enjoy solving this puzzle so much and realized that from an instructional design perspective, there are several ways to be inspired by the design of Wordle.

  1. Wordle is simple yet manages to create anticipation and motivation. It reminded me that you can do simple things to have your students look forward to your class:
      • Play media clips before your course starts. They could be related to your content, such as playing a Monty Python clip for a Python course. You can also have a meme of the day, and use it as a discussion starting point. Share a story related to your field. Students may start looking forward to your class simply because they want to know what you’ll do next.
  2. Wordle enables you to provide your own scaffolding. When you guess a word but don’t get it correct – any letters guessed correctly are highlighted yellow for correct but not in the right place, and any correct letters in the right place are green. Any letters with a dark background are not in the word at all. You give yourself hints to provide guidance on the next guess as you go along. This helped me think about what can be done in the classroom:
      • Design a low-stakes quiz that can be taken many times that includes feedback or hints for the wrong answers instead of just giving the correct answer right away. Students can retake as many times as needed, and only the highest grade is recorded.
      • An instructor can provide different ways to solve a problem and also do a problem together with the students. Next, students can partner to solve a similar problem together. Students would then talk through how they completed the problem as a share out to the rest of the class.
  3. Wordle can be used as an icebreaker or reinforcement. You can now create your own online Wordle. Creating your own Wordle provides the flexibility to choose words related to what you’re teaching or a particular field/discipline.
      • Create a Wordle that fits your topic and then solve it together with your students at the start of the class as an icebreaker or at the end to reinforce a concept discussed during the class.

Want more ideas to engage your students? Visit the Teaching Consultations and Support page to set up an appointment.